What a thrilling Saturday! Tight games, blowouts, surprises, overtime, you name it, it was there in the Big Ten. Let’s take a look at how it all shook out in week eight.
Wisconsin 38 Maryland 13
True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor passed the 1000 yard mark in Wisconsin’s seventh game of the season, a mark only equalled by a rare handful of college football running backs, including Florida's Emmitt Smith, Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, San Diego State's Marshall Faulk, along with Wisconsin’s own P.J. Hill.
That was really the only real talking point of the game. Maryland’s former #3 QB, now-starter Max Bortenschlager had a quarterback rating of 82.7, while Badger QB Alex Hornibrook’s was 164.6. I could provide a lot of other stats, but they all point to the same thing. The Terps were thoroughly throttled by Wisconsin.
Northwestern 17 Iowa 10 OT
Iowa was the far stronger team in the first half, and took a 7-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. However, in the second half, Northwestern came back to tie it up in the 3rd quarter, and take the lead in the 4th. Iowa came back to finally score again with a field goal with 1:30 left in the game.
In OT, Wildcat quarterback Clayton Thorson threw the ball to running back Justin Jackson who broke tackles and fell just shy of the goal line. On the next play, Thorson ran it in for the go-ahead score. Iowa was unable to respond, and Northwestern pulled off the come-from-behind overtime victory.
Michigan State 17 Indiana 9
There was a severe touchdown drought in this game until the waning minutes. Until that point, Indiana had taken a 9-3 lead over the Spartans in an anemic offensive display by both team that had a combined 17 punts on the day. However, with less than six minutes left, Michigan State scored their first TD. Indiana again had to punt on their next possession, and Michigan State scored again on an 18-yard run by LJ Scott. Indiana could have tied the score on their next possession, but were unable to move and turned the ball over on downs, securing the Spartan victory.
Minnesota 24 Illinois 17
Minnesota Head Coach obviously studied game film on the Illini, as the running game for the Golden Gophers had a field day. Rodney Smith ran for 103 yards, and Kobe McCrary added 153 more to run through Illinois’ tattered defense.
Despite the yardage gained, it was tied at 10 until 4:20 left in the 4th quarter when McCrary scored a go-ahead touchdown run, followed almost immediately with an interception by Minnesota on the ensuing Illini possession to put the game out of reach. A last-minute touchdown pass by Illinois’ Jeff George, Jr. made the score more respectable, but didn’t change the outcome.
Penn State 42 Michigan 13
#2 Penn State made an immediate statement on #19 Michigan with two quick strikes to take a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. It looked like a early blowout, but Michigan took advantage of a couple of Penn State miscues in the second quarter and soon it was 14-13, thanks to a missed Wolverine missed extra point. However, after the half, it was all Penn State. Penn State gained 506 yards in their ability to gain 8.3 yards per play. Both running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley scored multiple times in what turned out to be an easy PSU win.
Penn State’s last regular-season loss was against Michigan last season, so this game had the feel of a pay-back. There was no doubt they looked like the #2 team in the country last night as every part of their game was working as they dismantled Michigan.
Rutgers 14 Purdue 12
It wasn’t a pretty game for either team, but Rutgers offense was able to get into the end zone twice, and that was enough. Gus Edwards’ big run on Rutgers’ second offensive play, and true freshman Raheem Blackshear’s catch-and-run for a TD in the second quarter were all the points Rutgers needed to win.
Purdue outscored Rutgers in yardage gained 474 to 217 and completed 30 more plays than the Scarlet Knights, but the Rutgers defense was able to stop Purdue in the red zone multiple times, as well as keep the Boilermakers to 3-15 on 3rd downs, as well as 2 4th down-and-short attempts.
It was still a nail biter, however. With less than a minute left in the game, Purdue scored their first TD of the day, and missed the 2-point conversion that would have sent the game into overtime.
The win was important for two reasons for Rutgers. It was the first time Rutgers has scored consecutive conference wins since joining the conference in 2014, and their 3-4 record guarantees that Chris Ash’s squad will end the season with a better record than in his rookie season as head coach, an always-important mark.
Another great Saturday of football in the Big Ten. Lots of thrills, nail-biting, come-from-behind excitement, and some games that were no surprise at all. Of course, Rutgers second consecutive conference victory in conference history was the big news here On the Banks, but overall the conference continued to show why it is the premier conference in college football.